Not more than a decade back, advanced industrial automation systems and solutions such as collaborative robots and smart manufacturing equipment were accessible by the few corporations that could afford the capital investment, employ specialized personnel to deal with the complexity and maintenance costs, of such solutions. Recent technological advancements, however, are making this once exclusive equipment more and more available to all types of organizations.
This has really changed the way manufacturers of all types operate, along with the Medical Device Manufacturing sector. The wide availability of affordable, more capable, and ﬂexible automation is accelerating the rate of which medical device manufacturers can strategically automate their process, offering a combination of manual and automated services.
In terms of production, a strategically automated process will always manufacture the minimum possible number of defective units, all the while producing every unit with high repeatability, consistent quality, and tight tolerances. With regards to Quality Control, automation can ensure the medical devices are within specifications, in a reliable and repeatable fashion, also through product inspection QC and visual control.
Any typical medical device mass production quote from a manufacturer will include two main prices: the one-off costs associated with setup & tooling; and the per-item production cost. Into these figures, a medical device manufacturer has to factor in various processes and materials costs, which are greatly impacted by the level of automation of their facility.
An amount of one-off costs associated with setup & tooling is always required at the beginning of every new medical device project. These costs are amortized quicker when automation is strategically implemented due to the increased production output. The strategically automated facility will have produced the given number of medical device parts necessary for one-off cost amortizations. This means that one-off costs will have been absorbed (amortized) much earlier in a strategically automated facility.
A strategically automated production process provides excellent item track & trace capabilities. This means it allows for reproducibility and traceability, making the process compliant with the strict rules and regulations associated with medical device manufacturing. At the same time, this traceability is a useful tool for identifying, containing and troubleshooting defective parts or materials, lowering the economic impact of defectives, and providing cost savings.